Social Question

ETpro's avatar

What do you think of this fascinating essay from a former GOP operative who finally said enough is enough?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) September 4th, 2011

The article was written by Mike Lofgre, a staffer with over 20 years experience in the GOP in Congress. His headline reads, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult” It’s a rather complete discussion so it takes time to read it. But if you care about the future of Democracy in America, it would be well worth your while to take the necessary time (15 to30 minutes) and give serious consideration to what Mr. Lofgre says. It will help you understand why Republicans in Congress are doing some things that, on the surface, may seem utterly irrational.

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31 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I’ll pay you to summarize it lol.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

That’s a thoughtful and quite depressing essay. There are days when I shake in my boots for the future of democracy in the US. Instead of moving the country forwards, it appears that the Grand Old Party wants to take us back not to the picture-postcard perfect 1950s but to the rabidly ungovernable 1750s.

XD's avatar

To me, the value in any effort like this is how far or deeply it penetrates in mainstream culture. I’m already on board and have been for years. No doubt many people are disgruntled, but collectively we aren’t in a way that is unified or of significance. When a movement like the Tea Party can resist being co-opted by agents saboteur, then maybe we will have something. But, “they” are manufacturing ignorance faster than it can be dispelled, and that is a good bit why nothing comes of this collective dissatisfaction. I wish I could find the quote that I stumbled on a few weeks ago, but it basically said that the interests that fund both parties put an incredible amount of time, effort and energy ensuring that “we” think and believe in certain ways. They want us to stay in the sandbox, and if we try to get out, they’ll just dump sand in whatever direction we want to move so that the illusion is that there’s no possibility of escaping the dehumanizing context they’ve created.

gorillapaws's avatar

A modern Republican I can actually respect. He would get my vote if he ran for office.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

It just saddens me at this point, the article is just another confirmation in a series of sad confirmations of my view.

I believe one party has decided to cling to evidence and reason and their moral superiority. The other party has grasped that appeals to emotion are often more effective, and have ceded the pretense for logic.

It is a politics of appeal directly to emotions. People who are receptive to the message then shift logic around to support how they feel. It seems to me best represented by thinking of the Triune brain model, and that Republican politics work directly at the limbic system. The limbic system always beats the neocortex.

janbb's avatar

Excellent analysis and so, so sad.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Makes a really good argument for being a Libertarian, don’t it! : D

Jaxk's avatar

Interesting article that mirrors the current Democratic arguments. There are so many fallacious statements it’s hard to know where to begin. He prattles on about voting but I’ve never understood the objection to proving who you are in order to vote. Hell you have to prove who you are to do most anything else in this society, why the objection to this for voting?

The main thrust here seems to be to attack the motives. The single most common Democratic position. Forget the issues but if you can insinuate thier motives are bad, then you don’t have to deal with the issue. The Tea parties he seems to dislike so much are a prime example. They have simple goals: Smaller Government, Constitutional Government, and Lower Taxes. Really quite simple to understand and consistent throughout the various groups. These are never the issues that are denigrated but rather a variety of tangential issues that are not part of the mainstream philosophy.

As I said way too much to address every point but in his rant about congress, ask your self who is doing the most to blame all our troubles on congress? Every speech I’ve heard from this administration starts and ends with a criticism of congress for not cooperating. If anyone is trying to sabotage the validity of congress it would be this current administration. And just a side note that he rails against the use of the filibuster but seems to have no problem with the senate tabling bills from the house without even voting on them them let alone responding to them. Or locking the doors while negotiating the health care bill so that the Republicans can have no input. A pathetically myopic article.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jaxk the objection isn’t to proving who you are in order to vote, it’s that there are measures designed to make the process cumbersome and to discourage voters from groups that are likely to vote for democrats (young, poor, first-time voters etc.). There’s a targeted agenda there, and pretending there isn’t is either ignorant or dishonest.

Let’s disect the Tea parties goals shall we? With regards to smaller government and one that holds tightly to a strict interpretation of the constitution, you’ll find that they support many big government policies such as expanding the military, bringing the government into the bedroom, and getting between a doctor and their patients. As far as the lower taxes argument, you seem to be ignoring Lofgre’s argument that by slashing taxes, we’ve manufactured fiscal crises. Nor have you addressed his points that our tax system has become regressive, or that many corporations pay 0% rate, or that we’re already the lowest taxed nation in the first world. He actually mentioned many of these issues, you’re the one who’s glossing over them.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry It’s $55 an hour and should take no more than 2 hours. Send a 50% retainer and I’ll get going on it. :-)

@Hawaii_Jake I think that they’d be just fine with the robber baron period. Income and wealth disparity have peaked twice in the last 100 years in America. The first peak was in 1928 and the second in 2007. You see what happened after each. Eventiallu, as Professor Robert Reich points out here, even the rich will recognize that a falling tide strands yachts as well as rowboats.

@XD While there is no question that both parties are now heavily influenced by corporatists, one is still committed to keeping America a thriving democracy and the other wants to so thoroughly discredit government that we will abandon the whole idea of democracy in favor of pure fascist style corporatism. One of the sand blowing tactics is to push the moral relatavism that all things are equally evil. That is simply not true. And claiming it is plays right into the fascist’s hands.

@gorillapaws Mine too, but like Jon Huntsman, he would face an impossible task bringing along a party that has become determined to tear down all the social structure we have built since the depth of the Great Depression.

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought That’s an interesting and inciteful alalogy. Perhaps the keys to winning the day for logic lie in finding a better way to apeal to the reptilian brain stem than the New GOP is currently using.

@janbb As a child of the Great Prosperity from the end of WWII through the 1970s, it does me too. I grew up in an America where all people could expect their children to have a better life than them. That America hasn’t been completely killed by the wrong-headed policies of the 80s forward, but it is in its death throes. It will be hard to save, and impossible unless enough Americans learn the truth and roll up their sleeves to aave it.

@Jaxk Don’t bother to begin. You are one of the few who are benefiting from the fleecing of the middle class. I would not expect anything else from you than a series of attacks complex enough to derail any meaningful discussion of what the article is about. Decend into the minutia and obfuscate. I suspect you are a paid operative of the New GOP as are so many of the well informed posters who excoriate any message that deviates from parta dogma. If not, you should get your application in. As much time as you spend defending the growth of economic disparity, you ought to be collecting a handsome reward for your efforts.

@gorillapaws Well said.

Jaxk's avatar

@gorillapaws

I’m not sure how you figure that an ID targets anyone other than those that shouldn’t be voting or voting more than once. There should be some integrity in the system and if there’s another way to get it, I’d be happy to listen.

As for your arguments against the Tea Parties, you obviously know little about them. There is no expansion of the military or bedroom politics in they’re position. And they don’t want the government between them and their doctors. You’re reading too many liberal bloggers.

The tax rates are not the problem. In fact when the rates have declined, the economy grew as did tax receipts. You all love to assume that the economy is independent of the tax rates. It isn’t. I find it amusing that Lofgren would argue that SS and Medicare are not entitlements (a position I agree with) and then use them to show the tax code is regressive. Either they are a tax and the benefit is an entitlement or they are not a tax and the benefit is actually owed to you. I don’t know how he argues both sides. And as for State taxes, it is the Democrats that are continually raising sales, property, and other taxes for the same growth of government they want at the federal level. If you think State taxes are too regressive, stop raising them.

He wants to argue that a higher tax on $million wouldn’t hurt small business but that has never been proposed. Obama has belligerently stuck with his $200—$250K figure while always saying millionaires and billionaires, as if they were the same group. And if your worried about the zero tax paid by GE and others, why would you think that raising the rate would change that? If you want to address the loopholes, we can have that debate. Hell, I’d be solidly behind that. Stop letting hedge fund managers claim thier income as capital gains, I’d vote for that. Stop counting futures profits as long term capital gains. Hell they’re short term by definition, I’ll vote for that. Eliminate all subsidies, I’ll vote for that as well. What I won’t vote for is a raise in the rate, either income, capital gains, or corporate. You may find other Republicans would support those changes as well. Unfortunately, Obama won’t allow anything to get proposed that doesn’t raise the rates. The other problem we’d have with these changes is with the Tea Parties since they don’t want additional revenues to go to increased spending. I can understand that point. I’d like to see the revenues going towards reducing the debt rather than another useless stimulus package.

We currently are spending over 40% of our GDP in both federal and state. It is difficult to compare this with other countries since they typically only look at federal spending. When you say we are the lowest taxed in the First World, I’d need to see some backup for that which includes both state and federal.

In general, I haven’t glossed over anything. Unfortunately when I respond to an issue, I like to know the facts. When someone such as Lofgren goes on a tear with a laundry list of complaints, it’s difficult to address each one without writing a book. We’ve only touched on a few of them so far and I’ve already written more than most people are willing to read. There are solutions that we could find that will garner support from both Democrats and Republicans. We are not pursuing those in an attempt to impose our ideology on the other guys. Obama is widening that rift with his policies and rhetoric. Continuing to call Republicans evil, will not bridge that gap. Until we admit there is a real difference of opinion, the gap will only get wider.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

I appreciate the compliment. You must think my arguments are compelling enough that I should be paid for them. I wish that were the case. I also wish I was benefiting from any of this. Unfortunately I find myself in the same recession that most of America finds itself in. My arguments are intended to clarify rather than obfuscate. If you only want answers that agree with you, you should state in the question that only Democrats need reply. Nah, that wouldn’t work, I’d reply anyway. I don’t take censorship well.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Jaxk Respectfully, as this stuff fascinates me.

You feel like there should be integrity in the voting system, you want to expand government over-site and regulation of the voting public. You feel this is logically consistent with your position that smaller less intrusive government is the goal?

Jaxk's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought

I’m not sure how much you know about the voting system nor what the rules are in your state. I don’t mean this as some kind of slight but simply that I don’t know. I’m not looking for any more over sight than we already have. Currently, there are a number of ways to get identified as a registered voter. some may need to show a voter card, or a utility bill, or some may just ask you to sign a statement saying you are who you say you are. The loose rules we use create a variety of verification issues after the fact but all to no avail if the person casting the vote is not the registered voter. A photo ID simply makes the whole process easier and less susceptible to fraud. Some states have implemented the photo ID, 7 I think.

This link shows the various rules in each of the states. Quite a complex set of rules. A consistent photo ID would not only add significant integrity to the system but reduce the work required to validate a voter. Rather than expand the requirement it would consolidate the work. Yes, I feel it is consistent with my desire for less government.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk I do think you have a sharp ind and a good grasp of history. Please do take that as a compliment. That is how it was meant. I think you let ideology steer what you draw from your knowledge. Hence you can look at the Great Depression and 4 years of Hoover’s efforts where the economy steadily worsened on a steep curve, and 8 years of Roosevelt’s administration from his Inauguration in March of 1933 to mid 1941 when the GDP rose back to where it would have been had the pre-1929 curve continued without a depression; and you can somehow rationalize that Hoover was helping the economy but FDR make the depression last longer. Here’s the history. It is difficult to debate with confirmation bias that overwhelming.

As to the economy and how it’s treating you, I feel your pain. I’m finding some new niches in my business and getting it turned around now, but I nearly lost it all when the Great Recession first hit. Shame on me for not having realized as pundits spoke of the real-estate bubble what its bursting would imply for me. I should have taken precautions well before the crash, and I did not. I think there is a great deal of truth in Prof. Robert Reich’s analysis that while a rising tide will eventually lift all boats, a ebbing tide wll eventually leave them all grounded. The biggest of yachts as well as the rowboats are affected. THe bottom line I see is we have to resurrect our failing middle class, and as genuine as the Tea Party’s anger is, they have let political agent provocateurs misdirect it into directions that will make economic conditions for the middle class far worse than they already are.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@Jaxk Thanks, will look it over.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Every attempt by both Republican and Democratic Justice Departments to find widespread voting fraud of the kind Republicans claim is their target has netted virtually nothing. In point of fact, Republican voter suppression efforts to misdirect voters into voting on the wrong day, or into believing that absentee ballots work differently than they really do, or to downright intimidate minority voters at specific polling places constitute the bulk of the illegal actions that have turned up.

Here in Massachusetts, all registered voters in a district are listed in big computer generated book. Their names and addresses are shown. You must show any acceptable ID with your name and address. If the address doesn’t match what they have on file, you may only cast a provisional ballot while they check out the discrepancy. When you mark your ballot and head for the counting machine, another poll worker again checks your ID against a second copy of the book, and checks off that you have voted. Nobody can possibly vote twice. The dead can’t arise to vote. Poor people can’t be bussed in from other districts to vote. The whole voter fraud claim is a smokescreen for deliberate voter suprerssion targeted at groups that vote overwhelmingly Democratic and that will likely find it difficult to comply with the new hoto ID requirements. It is election engineering, pure and simple.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

I accept you compliment at face value. I think some of our disagreement stems from your mischaracterization of my view on Hoover. I’ve told you many times I don’t think Hoover helped the situation but rather made it worse. There is a good argument to be made that what may have been a recession turned into the great depression as a result of the 40% tariff increases. You should know that I would never agree with raising the tax rate from 25% to 63% during a depression. So why do you constantly try to paint my point otherwise?

As for FDR, there is no question that the rest of the world emerged from the depression before we did. There is no logical reason for that other than the policies put forth by FDR. Simply put he extended the depression.

As for the economy, I think we both want the same thing, growth and jobs. We have decidedly different ideas on how to make that happen. I think you assign more power to the Tea Parties than they really have. It is not a political party. They do not have control over any individual agenda. During the 60s and seventies, the anti-war movement grew to be an enormous force. It spawned groups like the Weather Underground. But the Weather Underground was not representative of the anti-war movement. The same is true of the Tea Parties. Just because someone purports to be a Tea Party member or supporter, doesn’t mean that everything they say or do is a Tea Party issue.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk As I said above, I agree that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff increase was the wrong medicine. Further, you wrote, “You should know that I would never agree with raising the tax rate from 25% to 63% during a depression. So why do you constantly try to paint my point otherwise?” There you are building a straw man. I have never said that you agreed with Hover’s tax increase. What I have said istead is that while you paint it as the worst possible medicine in a depression, the fact is that the GDP fall began to flatten shortly after the tax hike was enacted, and it turned the corner in less than a year after the tax actually hit taxpayers. So the claim that it made matters worse unless you think that a constantly plummeting GDP is a good thing.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

First My objection was to the comment “you can somehow rationalize that Hoover was helping the economy”. I never rationalized anything of the sort. In fact just the opposite.

There were many things going on during the thirties, most of them bad. If you focus on only one issue, you can easily be misled. When Hoover raised the tariffs, Europe responded by raising theirs as well. The result was an almost 50% drop in international trade. That created an incredible drop in sales and an increase in prices that amounted to about a 3% tax on all Americans. Also as early as 1930, Hoover began touting his tax increase. The New York Times, February 25, 1930 Headline was “Hoover Warns Congress to Economize or be Faced by Tax Rise of 40 Percent”. There’s an old stock market adage that says ‘Buy on the rumor, sell on the fact’. It merely means the adjustments occur based on what’s anticipated. By the time it actually happens the adjustments have been made.

I think we could agree that the drop in production was going to bottom out at some point regardless of what actions were taken by government. Even if it was a 100% drop it it can’t keep falling forever. By the time we reached 1933 the economy had reached equilibrium. The tax hikes had been figured in and the investment had already stopped. Much as we are seeing today. And as always happens there is a bounce once you reach bottom. In the thirties it was a dead cat bounce much as it is today.

The “constantly plummeting GDP” is your own strawman and if I read your post as written, you seem to be saying the tax hikes stopped the decline. Are you really supporting the Hoover policies?

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk OK, fair enough. We both agree Hoover managed the economy poorly. He certainly didn’t cause the depression, but his moved when it happened made it worse.

My objection to your claims is that FDR’s moves made the depression last longer. There’s no proof of that, and plenty of statistical evidence giving reason to doubt it. Sure, some other nations recovered more quickly than the US, but they weren’t the nations that had a huge number of their banks fail and default—leaving depositor’s money in limbo.

I also agree with avoiding massive tax increases during recessions. But targeted ones can bring in drastically needed revenue in a time when unemployment and a substantial drop in the GDP had starved the government of the resources to restart the economic engine.

laureth's avatar

@Jaxk – regarding this quip – here’s an article.

Back to your regular programming.

Jaxk's avatar

@laureth

A somewhat less biased assessment of voter fraud.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Some choice for an unbiased article. It states that a Washington State election was decided by 120 votes out of 2.9 million cast. It further states than in a final hand recount, a total of 1,678 votes were disqualified for a variety of reasons, just a few of which could be considered outright fraud. In other words, most of the votes disqualified were probably thrown out simply because of voter error. Than it makes the utterly outrageous claim that 1% of the votes were fraudulent.

Here;s the math. (1 678 / 2 900 000) x 100 = 0.057862069% That 1s 5 hundredths of one percent, not one percent. And most of that 0.05% was likely miss-marked ballots. The article gives no breakdown on what percentage of the disqualified votes fell into what category. So when some honesty is injected ito it, I would say your link is just one more proof that GOP claims of massive voter fraud are a smokescreen to cover for election rigging.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

You may have found a math error but I’m not sure how that affects the point. Since they gave you the numbers it is unlikely they were intentionally trying to deceive you. The point was that the election had been decided by 129 votes and there were 1678 illegally cast votes. The number comes from a court ruling in which Judge Bridges noted that there was evidence that 1,678 votes had been illegally cast throughout the state. Now maybe the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is a shill group for the Republican Party as you seem to suggest, I really wouldn’t know (I guess I would have expected them to take shots at the Democrats if that was the case and they didn’t). I don’t know them at all. It is fairly clear however that Rolling stone is a extremely biased liberal magazine (they continually took shots at the Republicans throughout).

The Washington example is a good one however, since it shows the holes in our process. The first count put Dino Rossi The winner. The second count put Dino Rossi the winner. The third count however, they somehow discovered 723 new ballots and Christine Gregoire won. It’s beginning to sound a lot like Minnesota. To make the issue even more confusing, it turns out that some counties showed they had more ballots than they had received. Other counties they had received more ballots than they had. And not surprisingly, the counties that counted more ballots than they received were Democratic counties while the counties that had received more ballots than they counted were Republican counties. Now I have no idea if there was anything fishy going on here but it sure looks bad.

It seems to me that if you have to recount 3 times to get you’re guy to win, somethings wrong. It seems to me that if you ‘Find’ hundreds of new ballots on the third count, somethings wrong. It seems to me that if there are more illegal votes than the margin of victory, somethings wrong. And if this happens multiple times in multiple states, somethings wrong.

I’m not sure why Democrats are so dead set against anything that might shore up the integrity of this system. It makes me wonder about the integrity of the Democrats.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jaxk so you’re concerned with a few hundred questionable ballots (which is likely a result of the counting process and the way elections are run in various localities), but then support measures that will have the effect of disenfranchising millions of voters across the country (and doing nothing to fix any of the likely causes of the problem)? Instead of just claiming the article is biased because it slams the Republicans, how about refuting the factual assertions it makes that you believe are false. If the Republicans are engaging in insidious activities, then they should be lambasted for their efforts—it’s not a liberally biased article, it’s responsible journalism.

Jaxk's avatar

@gorillapaws

I thought I just did.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Why Am I not surprised at your conclusion that the glaring math error is immaterial? In all our discussions, when I have shown you the Mount Everest of proof you have countered that your ant hill might somehow actually have one grain of sand on it that missed getting counted, and therefore it probably towers above Mount Everest. This is just the latest example. Discussion of actual facts is pointless in such an environment.

I will affirm to you one more time that I am not the ideologue here. I’m just reading real facts, and determining where they point. For instance, the GOP claims that lowering taxes always puts more people to work and increases federal revenues. If that were true, I would sign on in a heartbeat. I don;t love to pay out my earnings in taxes any more than you do. Unfortunately economics and magic don’t mix. The evidence is that in the face of a demand side crisis, supply side solutions not only fail to help, they make a bad situation much worse. No amount of believing in magic makes magic actually influence reality. Both the far left and the far right need to learn that, though Lord knows they aren;t quick studies, either of them.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

Maybe you could explain to me how the math error materially changes the argument. They used 1% to say it was a low number. they should have said <1% and maybe you wouldn’t have felt so deceived.

I know that you and Maxine Waters want a $Trillion+ stimulus plan. Maybe Obama will propose that today but I doubt it. You like to play games with your mountain of evidence against my grain of sand or magic economics. Sorry but I like to stick with my Charts, Graphs, and Data as opposed to your bumper sticker slogans. They tell me a lot more. The truth is every time we’ve lowered taxes, the economy has rebounded and the unemployment rate has fallen. You can’t say that about spending.

The biggest problem we have right now is unemployment. We need jobs. You can play games and say Obama has created more jobs than Bush but Bush kept unemployment at 5% while Obama has kept it at 9%. Or you can say that FDR grew the economy more than anyone else (hell I think we hit 14% one year) Reagan never got past 8% (I’m estimating the numbers, you can correct me if they’re wrong). Yet FDR never got unemployment below the mid teens in the thirties while Reagan dropped it to 5%. Focus on the problem we want to fix rather than numbers that might make your guy look good (or slightly better, good is too much of a stretch).

We have agreed many times that closing the loopholes would help receipts without major damage to the jobs picture. Raising rates, is another matter altogether. Raising the top rate will not create a single job. But it may cost some. And another stimulus won’t happen unless you guys win back the house and a filibuster proof senate. I don’t think that’s in the cards.

I don’t know if you’re an ideologue or not. I only know you argue like one.

laureth's avatar

Meta: Rolling Stone posted a piece in response to the Truthout article.

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